Find the right litter for your feline friend
Cat owners should consider tracking and odor issues when considering what type of cat litter to purchase, said Dr. Deborah Carleton, of Colony Animal Hospital in Winchester. Tracking refers to how much of the litter sticks to cats’ paws as they meander in and out of their box, and odor refers to the stench that comes with urine and excrement.
However, the type of litter can also matter to the cat.
“For whatever reason, there are some cats that can be pretty picky about it,” Carleton said.
When changing litters, some cats need to be retrained to use their box, she said.
Along with picking the right litter, Carleton said it’s important that owners use the right amount of litter, and that they care for the litter box properly.
Depending on the layout of a cat’s home, the animal should have more than one litter box if the house or apartment has multiple stories. Likewise, those litter boxes should be scooped out every day if possible, but every other day at a minimum.
When it comes to multiple cats living in one residence, some cats will share a box, but it’s not necessarily a best practice.
“Some cats will share, but the rule of thumb is one box per cat,” Carleton said.
When cleaning out a litter box, Carleton said owners should scoop the excrement or urine clumps into a bag and throw the bag in the trash. Carleton personally reuses old grocery bags to contain the odor. However, some litters, such as pine or sawdust-based litters, can simply be thrown on the ground after the clumps are removed.
Additionally, every so often cat owners should empty the entire box to make room for a fresh fill of litter.
Though it might be tempting to avoid the task of cleaning a cat’s litter, the effects of the negligence can be problematic for both the cat and the owner.
Carleton said some cats stop using their litter box if they feel it’s too dirty, causing accidents around the house. Also, some cats will develop urinary tract infections as a result of a dirty litter box.
While its name may suggest otherwise, urinary tract infections are actually caused by stress, not bacteria, and are the result of inflammation and not infection, Carleton said. Changes in the house, like a dirty litter box, a new person or animal in the house, an owner away on vacation, or a host of other stressors, can cause a urinary tract infections in a cat.
“It doesn’t take too much to stress a cat,” Carleton said.
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